The NBA and sports worlds are paying tribute to Kobe Bryant on what would have been the Basketball Hall of Famer's 42nd birthday. Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26.
Sunday would have been Bryant’s 42nd birthday. When the Los Angeles Lakers meet the Portland Trail Blazers in their NBA playoff series Monday, they will wear their special "Black Mamba" uniforms in Game 4 on Aug. 24 — 8/24, the two numbers Bryant wore as a Laker.
Bryant was in the early stages of his second career as a storyteller and businessman when he, daughter Gianna, 13, and seven other people with close ties to Bryant and basketball died. Bryant also was a loving and devoted girl dad to Gianna, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. That was a part of his life that close friend and Lakers president Rob Pelinka talked about at Bryant’s memorial in February.
"He just loved his girls, and there was nothing in the world that meant more to him," Pelinka said.
Bryant has missed out on so much in such a short time: his daughters’ events, including Gianna’s basketball games (she wore No. 2), the return of the WNBA season — he undoubtedly would have taken Gianna to see the Los Angeles Sparks — his election to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Lakers making the playoffs.
Vanessa Bryant posted a loving, heart-wrenching message to her late husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter Gianna on what would have been the NBA star's 42nd birthday on Sunday.
"To my baby~ Happy birthday. I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi. I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh," she wrote in an Instagram post.
Kobe's nickname was Black Mamba and Gianna, a talented basketball player like her father, was known as Mambacita.